Many people believe, and some research suggests, that intervention has its best potential for change if it is initiated at the earliest possible point. This is also the position of the juvenile court system and one of the main reasons for its primary goal: the habilitation of the juvenile delinquent. As a result, juvenile courts often look to professionals to assist in directing habilitative services. Forensic psychology professionals are often asked to conduct assessments of juveniles in order to begin the habilitative process. Violent risk assessments in particular are important to the juvenile courts when making decisions of placement. For example, can a juvenile be habilitated in the community without putting others at significant risk? Or, does the juvenile pose such a future threat that a confined setting is the best alternative? As is the case with adults, the answers to such questions rely on the proper forensic assessment.
One of the hardest decisions forensic psychology professionals may face is how to make appropriate recommendations that will protect not only the minor, but also the community. While they may be minors, juveniles who commit violent crimes can pose a substantial risk to their communities.
In this Discussion, you will review all the Learning Resources for this week—particularly the media, in which you will witness juveniles who have been sentenced as adults. You will also identify other criminal events that could influence the decision of a juvenile being sentenced as an adult verses as a minor.
- Describe at least two examples of crimes committed by a juvenile that may prompt a petition to try that juvenile as an adult.
- What developmental criteria would legally be needed in order for a juvenile to be tried as an adult? What might be the role of a forensic psychology professional in this decision?